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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Drinks Increase Waistline


My post yesterday was on holiday beverages and how quickly the calories can add up. I thought I would expand on that information and include information on how beverages at all times of the year can contribute to weight gain.

A study out recently in the journal Obesity Research found that part of the reason we are gaining weight is because we are drinking our calories. The percentage of calories that we get from beverages has almost doubled in the past 37 years, going from 12% of our calories back in the 60's to 21% of our calories today. The average person gets 222 calories from beverages alone.

When you look at the trends, alcohol, fruit juice, and soda all went up in consumption and milk has gone down. I definitely hear that when I am talking with clients. I grew up drinking milk at meals, and now very few people have a glass of milk with dinner. They drink water, soda, or alcohol instead.

The problem with getting our calories from beverages is that they do not fill you up. When researchers study reported hunger and fullness in people, they find that when people drink their calories, they do not report as much fullness as when they eat them. For example, drinking 250 calories from a soft drink will not fill you up as much as eating a 250 calorie sandwich or frozen meal.

I sort of have a rule for beverages. Do not drink anything with calories unless it is milk or 100% fruit juice. Occasional alcohol can fit, but avoid getting calories from sweet drinks. Coffee drinks with pumps of sugary syrup are also contributing a large amount of calories. Use sugar free syrup and nonfat milk and you will have a much lower calorie drink. Even fruit juice I limit to 6 oz per day. You can get 100% of your Vitamin C in that amount. Eat whole, fresh fruit instead of juice and it will keep you satisfied for a longer time.

Drink water as the majority of your beverage intake. If you get tired of plain water, add sugar free flavor packets or use sugar free (diet) soft drinks to get hydration, too.

Photo courtesy of istockphoto
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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